Aline McKenna is the writer of "Morning Glory," starring Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams, and Diane Keaton. The film, directed by Roger Michell, is being released by Paramount on November 10.
Trials and triumphs of young women
McKenna has long been drawn to the trials, and triumphs, of young women finding their way – and themselves – in the workplace, which first came to the fore when she penned the hit comedy The Devil Wears Prada, based on the bestselling book about a young assistant who valiantly faces off with the boss from hell.
McKenna began with the idea of a struggling, recently let-go, local news producer, whose career prospects seem about as bleak as her foundering love life until she gets her first big break at “Daybreak.” She knows the odds couldn’t be any more stacked against her, but Becky Fuller is not going to let a once-in-a-lifetime chance go by without giving it her all. That’s when this overexcited and unsinkable young woman collides head-on with her polar opposite: a legendary evening anchor who cannot stand anything soft, sweet or, worst of all, fluffy, but is forced to take on all of that, and more, when Becky recruits him as the show’s new co-host and, so she hopes, savior.
J.J. takes interest
When she pitched the story of Morning Glory to J. J. Abrams, he instantly fell in love with the push-pull tension between a determined newcomer who won’t say die and the ultimate work-place troublemaker, who won’t cooperate to save his life.
“The engine of Morning Glory is the very fun dynamic between these two terrific characters: Becky, a young woman who is incredibly enthusiastic about her new job, who just wants everyone to believe in her; and Mike, this once-revered, now-retired anchor who could not despise morning news any more than he does and does everything he can to make Becky’s job absolutely impossible. I loved that Aline was going for a high-energy, old school feeling, like the movies of Preston Sturges. Morning news is a great backdrop for a work-place comedy because it’s such a live-wire atmosphere, but Aline came at it from a completely fresh approach. Succeeding at this job means everything to Becky, yet Mike has no intention of making it easy for her.”
Morning news accuracy
McKenna is known for her dynamic use of dialogue, but also believes in research. Right away, she set her alarm for the middle of the night and began spending her days behind the scenes at all the New York morning shows, getting an inside glimpse at just how tough a lifestyle a young producer must lead.
Says executive producer Sherryl Clark, “I think one of the greatest compliments we received was when Morley Safer, who makes a cameo in the film, asked if Aline had ever worked in news because he thought everything was so incredibly accurate.”
News vs. entertainment
The more she learned, the more McKenna felt it had to be more than the now waning war of news versus entertainment. Instead, she had her main character face head-on today’s reality: that the two have become entwined beyond separation. Mike Pomeroy might believe heatedly in the power of real news to impact the world, and Becky might be awed by his skills as a reporter, but she knows that the world has changed to the point that Mike must either find a new way… or fade away. And, as crazy as drives her, she wants to save his career as much as she wants to kick-start her own.
“Aline’s script acknowledges the debate and touches upon the importance of the news, but her story is not really about that,” explains Clark. “It’s really about a girl who is an underdog, who comes to the big city to try to change the fate of the fourth-rated morning show in America, and how, in the process, she has to turn around some of the most cynical, jaded people in existence.”